With the Philippine entry Bwakaw already out of the shortlist, the interest in the foreign language film category of this year’s Oscar Awards plummeted to zero. And with the announcement of the five final nominees, we can already predict the winner with more than five weeks before awards night on February 24.
It will be an easy win for Amour, the Austrian entry directed by Michael Haneke, starring French acting legends Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva and Isabelle Huppert. We can say that he film is out of its league in this particular category and that is because it also figured prominently in other categories of the Oscars.
Amour was also nominated for best picture where nine films will fight it out, best director, best actress and best original screenplay (with the usual five nominees each).
The film came to the Oscars with the best of credentials. At the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, it won the Palme d’Or. At the 25th European Film Awards, it was nominated in six categories, winning in four, including Best Film and Best Director. At the 47th National Society of Film Critics Awards it won the awards for Best Film, Best Director and Best Actress.
These are just some of the formidable odds the four other nominees will have to break down. But first, let us look at the five final nominees in the foreign language film category: Amour (Austria), War Witch (Canada), No (Chile), A Royal Affair (Denmark) and Kon-Tiki (Norway).
Based on their records in this category, Denmark already won three times; Austria and Canada have one best foreign language film Oscar each under their belts. Norway and Chile have not won yet. Chile actually receives its first-ever nomination with No and this reminds us of the Philippine dilemma. It has yet to garner its first nomination in the histopry of the Oscars.
Before we focus on Austria’s Amour, let us go through the four other nominated countries.
Canada won in 2003 with The Barbarian Invasions. The country has five nominations—Monsieur Lazhar (2011), Incendies (2010), Water (2006), Jesus of Montreal (1989) and The Decline of the American Empire (1986).
War Witch, directed by Kim Nguyen, depicts the brutal reality of child soldiers and was shot entirely on location in Kinshasa, the Democractic Republic of Congo.
In competition for the Golden Bear at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival in February 2012, Rachel Mwanza won the Silver Bear for Best Actress. She also won the award for Best Actress at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival.
Chile finally got its first nomination on its 17th submission which is No–directed by Pablo Larrain—which is set in Chile during the plebiscite of 1988 when Gen. Pinochet, after 15 years in power, called a vote if he would stay in power. The film’s hero, an advertising man, works as a part of a team to create upbeat infomercials to encourage the public to vote no while their advertising agency boss works for a Yes campaign.
During the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, No won the Art Cinema Award, the top prize in the Directors’ Fortnight section. At the 2012 Abu Dhabi Film Festival, Gael García Bernal won the award for Best Actor.
Denmark already won in this category three times with back to back wins in 1987 (Babette’s Feast) and 1988 (Pelle the Conqueror) and as recently as 2010 with In a Better World. The country also boats of five nominated films—After the Wedding (2006), Memories of a Marriage (1989), Harry and the Butler (1961), Paw (1959) and Qiritoq (1956)
A Royal Affair, directed by Nikolaj Arcel, is set at the court of the mentally ill King Christian VII of Denmark, and focuses on the romance between the queen and the royal physician Struensee.
At the Berlin Film Fesitval, Mikkel Følsgaard won the Silver Bear for Best Actor and Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg won the award for Best Script.
Norway has yet to win in this category but it already boasts of four nominations—Elling (2001), The Other Side of Sunday (1996), The Pathfinder (1987) and Nine Lives (1957).
Kon-Tiki , directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, is the dramatised story of Thor Heyerdahl and his Kon-Tiki expedition of 1947. Heyerdahl sets out to prove his theory that people from South America could have settled in Polynesia in pre-Columbian times. To do this he builds a balsa raft using original techniques, and sails across the Pacific from Peru to Polynesia with his five crew, a distance of 4,300 nautical miles.
Kon-Tiki was shot in Norway, Polynesia, United States, Malta, Bulgaria, Sweden, Peru and the Pacific Ocean.
The film was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 70th Golden Globe Awards.
(Next week: Austria’s Amour)
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